Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

 

Good Land

 

 

Like Caroline,

Tim grew up on fields of soybean and feed corn.

With talk of price per bushel in his head,

he always admired the sweep of the valley, and

the way the hills rolled their backs to the sky.

 

Through school, he worked at Leslie’s Nursery

and learned there to notice the burst

of a blossom and the furl of ornamental foliage.

There was a day that a bulb salesman came.

He had a bouncy accent that gamboled around

the rafters of the big barn while he showed

them pictures of the tulip fields in Holland.

Great swaths of vibrant red, pink, orange, yellow.

It was all so showy it almost seemed shameful,

and he yearned to go there and be overwhelmed.

 

At State Caroline found him in a French class, so,

naturally, they took their wedding trip in Provence,

and he waxed exuberant about the acres of sunflower

waving at their train as it rushed toward Arles.

Caroline, a true farmer’s daughter, made fun.

She couldn’t see any sense in wasting good land

on flowers, but Tim has become incorrigible.

 

Every corner of yard not given to Caroline’s

vegetables is a flare of his bright purposelessness.

And he walks Church Street when the pear trees

flourish and the white petals drift like snowfall.

Every spring he makes a drive out to Gable’s Tree Farm

to walk the rows when the young crabapples blow.  

 

The closest he ever got to persuading Caroline

was during a weekend getaway when he

insistently tempted her into the orchid house

of a botanical garden. Her appreciation was polite,

but in the hotel that night she was fierce.

It was a one-time thing, and probably just the wine.

 

He drove to the capital one spring just for the cherries.

He longs one day to see the Tecolote fields in Carlsbad.

He’d travel to Turkey merely to see the poppy bloom

or to Kaifeng for the Double Ninth chrysanthemums.

And he’s heard legends of a place in Iowa where

a train carrying flower seeds crashed long ago;

in a state given wholly to the green rustle of corn,

they have sacrificed a whole fertile valley to wild color.

Perhaps if she were to see that she would understand.

 

 

 

Andrew Vogel teaches American Modernism at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Creatively, Vogel has published in The Blue Collar Review, The Heartland Review, Off the Coast, Clark Street Review, Slant Poetry Review, The Lehigh Valley Review and the Evergreen Review.